Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Table Centerpiece

I have been busy with my Etsy shop orders and neglected my blog for a while and I am sorry about that ;-) Since I love this little place of ideas sharing, food growing, and meals cooking, I am back and hopefully my new plan for this blog will bring everyone more inspiration than ever before.

We are all in our Thanksgiving week preparations just about now and if you need last minute decoration idea, you came to the right place! You can have kids help you with this one or you don't have to, but I had them work on most of it ;-) Put them to work for you, if you can - my advice anyway...

First cut out leaf patterns from construction paper. You can add some fabric, burlap, or felt leaves if you wish. Write on them things that everyone in your family is thankful for - some of my kids words make me laugh but they are truly thankful for those things (like my daughter's love for Hello Kitty was true). Punch a hole on one side to be able to hang them up.

Fill a vase or large jar (how lucky that I found this large Mason Jar on garage sale - my all time favorite) with rocks. Even candy corn, dry corn, or sand will work.

Bring sticks from the outside. Best are those with bunch of small branches coming out of them for fun display of leaves. Place them in the vase, pushing them down into the rocks for stability.

Now tie a burlap fabric or a large ribbon around the mouth of the jar and hang up the leaves. I save the leaves from year to year and kids add new leaves with new things they are thankful for. They love looking back at what they loved and thanked for in the previous years. And so do I!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Announcing my new Etsy Shop and Give Away

I am beyond excited to finally open my new Etsy Shop!!! I have been thinking about this for so long but it was never a good time. In life we often plan but God thinks differently, right? So He finally decided it was time for me to make it happen... ;-) You can see the link in my side bar, so feel free to come and take a look if there is anything that you might like for yourself or someone you know! I also make things to order so don't hesitate to convo me and I will be happy to fulfill your wish.

As a part of the celebration, I am hosting a Give Away on my Instagram Account, so please come and participate. You never know, you might just be the random winner of these goodies! The Give Away is open till Tuesday night. Click here to get to the photo. Good Luck!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Homemade Gifts by Kids - Create your own ISPY Book

Since the Holiday season is slowly approaching I thought this might help you guys out! For the next few weeks I will share with you some of my kids' homemade gifts. We love giving and receiving meaningful presents, especially when they are perfectly fitting the person on the other end. 

The iSpy Book

My kids made this for their cousins' birthdays. It happened to be their favorite kind of book at the time and my kids were very excited they came up with the best gift!

Do you know someone who is a big I SPY Book fan? 

In that case, keep reading...

First, have your kids pick a group of toys they would like to use and set up their first scene. You can either have the kids take a picture or take it yourself (usually depends on each individual kid... some four year olds could be very skillful with a camera ;-)

We also secretly went to their house and set up a scene from their actual toys (luckily they were out of town and we were taking care of their house ;-)

After we took all the pictures we wanted, we uploaded them to iPhoto and edited them. We cropped them and also fixed the exposure and color if it was needed.

I use Shutterfly for all my photo books but if you have a site that is your favorite, you can use that one. Shutterfly has many coupons available most of the time and sometimes you even get the book for free - you just pay shipping. Using their templates we turned our idea into a fabulous book!

After you upload all your photos, you place them onto the pages, and decorate with different embellishments (if you wish of course). Then go back to the pictures and come up with the riddles, which you place on opposite page!

This was such a fun project that we all worked on together for couple weeks. We took our time, went back and forth to adjust different things, but at the end it was all worth it. My kids wanted to have their own copy as well so I had to order two.

We made sure to personalize the book with messages for the boys and personal pictures of all of them together!

Here is an idea for a title page photo ;-)

The boys loved the gift so much!

I hope this helped and have fun with this project!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kids and Chickens - Why is Chicken Keeping Beneficial for Our Kids

Old McDonald had a Farm ... which little child wasn't in love with this song at some point in their life? We live at least part of this song daily here at our little backyard farm and I see the impact of caring for animals on my children. 

We can go and see animals at the ZOO or a petting place but to experience the ownership that brings on responsibilities in the children is priceless. We have had chickens even before our kids were born, so they both came to live into the farm environment. Last year, we finally decided to get them each a pet chicken. Up until that time, all our chickens were sort of pets that had to go every few years because they would stop laying eggs. But I realized how important it was to them to have a feathered creature here to stay.

And that's how we came to Brownie and Whiny. This above is Brownie - they are both Bantams, miniature chickens. I like having small chickens for the kids, because they are easier for them to handle.
Many times I catch the kids hanging out with their birds. Here is T enjoying afternoon rest with Brownie. 

 Having chickens keeps my kids connected to the reality of where food comes from. They also learn responsibility and compassion towards animals, something that God intended for us to have and to teach to our children. When we come to a slight bump and we have to deal with some emergency in the coop, kids are always involved and they help us solve the problem. Here is Whiny when she nearly died as a baby and we helped her back to life by feeding her sugar water using dropper. 

They LOVE collecting the eggs from nesting boxes and feeding the girls!

During the winter months we grow earthworms for our chickens for healthy snack... what kid doesn't like to participate in something gross right? Our daughter used to be afraid of these wigglers and this exposure helped her feel comfortable and now she handles them without a problem!

 Generally kids love animals and it is up to us parents to nurture that relationship. To close this post, let me list some suitable chicken breeds for you to consider:
  • Silkies
  • Cochins
  • Australorps
  • Bantams
  • Sussex
  • Delaware
  • Red star chickens
are all friendly breeds and are best to make special connection with your kids. Well, this is so exciting and I hope you will start your little chicken coop soon! 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dreamy Meatloaf Recipe

I used to make meatloaf according to an internet recipe I found and it was good... But then I remembered how my mom used to make this meatloaf, filled with pickles and eggs and hot dogs and I really wanted to try make it myself (to spice up the menu ;-) - don't we all wish to do that). 

Just a note - if you have been following my blog for a while, you know we raise our own chickens and turkeys and I am a big fan and supporter of people eating organic, free range, local meats - so I am using a ground beef that was lovingly raised on my husband's uncle's farm. We just love when we know where our food comes from ;-)

You will need

1 lb of ground beef
1/2 of bagel or 1 french roll
1 egg
1 small onion
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp majoram
2 tbsp ground caraway
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of black pepper

For Filling

Hard boiled eggs
Hot dog

give or take 
the amount depends on what you like best - you can double up on the egg and leave out the hot dog etc...

First cut up the bagel or roll and dip it into the milk. Wait until it absorbs the milk and becomes soft and mushy. 

Then work it with hands until it looks like this.

Set it aside and mix the rest of the ingredients ...

... in a Kitchen Aid like mixer - or just use you hands. Preheat oven to 350.

Take it out of the bowl, lay it out on your counter, and form it into a half an inch thick long oval.

Lay the eggs and cucumbers (or hot dogs) on top of the meat mixture...

... and wrap it all up. The mixture should be holding well together.

Pour oil and half of cup of water into a glass (or any) oven dish and place the meatloaf in it.

Bake for 45 minutes (Please check your meatloaf after 35 minutes - ovens might vary and that could make a huge difference) and during that time open the oven couple times to pour some of the oil mixture that is in the dish over the meatloaf to keep it from drying out. Don't take it out of the oven but just turn on the broil option and keep it in for 5 minutes. Observe carefully so you don't burn it. This gives it a crunchy seal (if you prefer not softer meatloaf, skip this step)

You are ready to let it cool down for easier cutting! I hope you enjoy this fun spin on your meat loaf!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

DIY Sparkly Sequins Shoes

Not that these Converse sparkly shoes weren't fancy enough already ;-) But my daughter saw a picture of this project in one of her library books a while ago and insisted we do it as a part of our "girls-only" weekend.

You will need:

Shoes with the rubber toe, such as Converse
Hot glue
Decorative jewels 

I had her arrange the jewels and sequins on top of the shoe the way she wanted them to be laid out. If kids are old enough to handle hot glue gun, they can attach them after they laid them all out. If your kids are too little, parents should help attaching them.

And finished...

You have no idea how much higher these help you jump! ;-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tips for Planting Perennials and Tour Around the Backyard Farm

I thought I would give you a new tour around the backyard today and give you few tips about strategic planting that I use. 

When I buy plants, I think ahead... how tall will they get? That is very important when it comes to placement of the plants. For example look at this picture below... I started on the left with ground cover that doesn't grow too tall, followed by taller and then taller plants (The dark leafed plant in the back will still get taller - it's a late bloomer). Tall grass is placed in he back.

And look at this same setting from a different angle. It still works, doesn't it?

I took this picture of the same plant just recently, when all the plants got even taller. Also did you notice that I like to incorporate rocks into my garden? I love how they add that sharp edgy look to it.

The beautiful greenery is in great contrast with the grey rocks. 

And how about all the different shapes you can play with? I just love the contrast the rocks create. We didn't have to purchase the rocks, I got them from people who were getting rid of them - bonus!

Besides different sizes, I also love combining different shapes, textures, and colors. You can see an example on the picture below - how the thin grass breaks up the space in the front of the bee balm. And then the lavender plant (first year for this one so it's still tiny, but again, I am thinking ahead) and pointy leaves of iris.

...or over here by our pond I placed an ever green bush with hostas and cat tails in the background...

Think outside the box when it comes to designing your garden. I like placing garden decorations into our garden beds, they add an extra touch to the whole picture.

I am in love with these terra-cotta glazed garden balls.

Don't throw out that old barrel planter. The rustic look adds a little vintage to your design.

Every year we somehow change something in the backyard. Either things begin to over grow or we just have a better idea ;-)

I spoke earlier about the different textures and shapes. I have another example below, where my husband added this drift wood into the equation. And as a ground cover, to make everything look neat we choose either gravel or free mulch that town offers for us to come pick up.

Don't forget you are not limited if you only have an option to use planters... In the next post I will give you some tips for container planting ;-)

I hope you enjoyed this year's tour! Enjoy the end of summer in your garden :-)